Housing Matters – September 2018

CEO Report

There’s enough evidence to demonstrate Australia needs much more social and affordable housing but insufficient to convince the state and commonwealth governments to fund the numbers to make an inroad into the massive shortfall.

This month Ilan Wiesel and colleagues took a look at how the Australian housing boom had impacted on inequality. In their article they built on the recent Productivity Commission research into inequality to also consider housing costs. Once mortgage and rent costs are considered the increases in household’s disposable incomes between 1988 and 2015 is ‘30% in the lowest decile compared with 81% in the highest decile’. This is explained by housing costs accounting for a greater proportion of lower income households’ spending also exacerbated by disproportionate increases in rents at the lower end of the market. Higher income households – often home buyers, have at the same time benefited from lower interest rates and hence cheaper mortgages.

Housing has also contributed to rising wealth inequality with lower income households seeing ‘little or no wealth gains from housing’ in contrast to the upper deciles who experienced annual rises of circa 3% in their wealth.

There is a general acceptance that too much inequality is bad news – both for individuals but countries as a whole. As the not exactly radical OECD said in its report on inequality “econometric analysis suggests that income inequality has a sizeable and statistically significant negative impact on growth.”

So it makes big sense to do something about housing not just to ease the passage into home ownership but also to ensure a good supply of affordable rental homes for the many households who are unable to purchase in the near future.

While we look to the state and commonwealth government to do the heavy lifting, this month saw some Councils taking the initiative including City of Sydney, where Council are proposing to extend the current affordable housing contribution schemes operating to other land including Central Sydney – see here.

On the Central Coast the Council has just put its affordable housing strategy on exhibition. Amongst its 28 recommendations are the following:

  • Using Council land for social and affordable housing in partnership with registered community housing providers
  • Actively promote new generation boarding housing in appropriate locations
  • Developing a voluntary planning agreement policy

And we should also acknowledge the latest Communities Plus opportunity released in early September to provide circa 60 social, affordable and market homes on Crown Street, Wollongong – see here.

Industry Development Powering On

There are several industry development projects underway at CHIA NSW. These projects are funded by FACS under the NSW Community Housing Industry Development Strategy (IDS) and focus on building the capacity of both community housing providers and also the infrastructure needed to support the community housing system in NSW.

The Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit has been finalised and we are hoping to launch it to coincide with the White Ribbon 16 Days of Activism. We know that a number of our members have either received accreditation from White Ribbon or are in the process of doing so and we really want to continue to help the industry to tackle this incredibly important issue.

The Financial Inclusion: effectively preventing and managing rent arrears project will soon come to an end with the final report and resources due for publication in the next couple of months. Thanks to all of the providers that opened their doors to me to talk all things rent – I found it riveting and as always to hear what providers are doing and whilst there is a lot of great practice out there the report will throw down the gauntlet to our members to have a rethink about how they are managing the issue of rent and debt, particularly as our sector grows and costs for tenants keep rising.

Tom Kehoe has started the Improving Responses to Antisocial Behaviour Project. On 27 September, Tom is hosting a consultation workshop with community housing providers to capture issues, challenges and solutions. What we hear at this workshop will help shape a toolkit which will give practical resources to community housing providers managing antisocial behaviour. The project will be completed in December 2018.

We also have been approved for five new projects in 2018/19 including one designed to give our members guidance and resources to help address the growing issues associated with managing a tenant population that is ageing, and one that will trial improving housing pathways for people leaving prison in two regional Social Housing management Transfer locations.

Adam West will be leading Stage 2 of the Technology Mapping Project, on making even more industry information available to members through the development of a data dashboard, and on developing value for money indicators – critical to ensure we can continue to argue about the effectiveness of our industry. Wendy will lead on designing a framework for revitalising the National Community Housing Standards, our way of demonstrating the commitment the sector will make to achieving high service and property standards in return for the investment made in social and affordable housing.

If you want to know more about any of these projects or want to see how you could be involved please get in touch with us and we look forward to keeping you updated.

 

CHPs, Landcom and NHFIC – cooking up affordable housing?

Early one cold bright morning in late August, NSW community housing non- executive directors, Landcom luminaries and one notable NHFIC representative gathered for breakfast in Martin Place to cook up some ideas for an affordable housing feast. 

First to the table was Landcom’s CEO John Brogden with his ingredients outlined in their Strategic Directions. These include targets for affordable housing on government land, some special projects, and a commitment to reduce wastage through smart commissioning. He brought out an example he had prepared earlier; one along the North West Sydney metro line at Tallawong. While the community housing industry would have preferred more affordable housing and a sell by date beyond ten years, it’s a good start.

Next up was CHIA NSW to demonstrate the not for profit community housing industry credentials as affordable housing cooks. Since 2012 providers have delivered over 1250 new homes and have at least 1500 more in the pipeline; with a total investment of circa $1 billion. They build well, involve their local communities and aim to cut the energy bills for the consumers according to our Industry Snapshot. For the industry, Landcom is a vital ingredient – just look at what happens when they share a kitchen. Evolve Housing’s Harts Landing is proof of the pudding.

Last but not least to step up was the NHFIC’s David Crawford who spoke about how his outfit could oil the wheels by offering bulk deals to reduce the costs. Low interest, long term inputs and a cast iron guarantee. They’re even offering a capacity building service for new entrants. It’s all modelled on The Housing Finance Corporation in the UK , which has been baking social and affordable housing for 30 plus years without any needing to be thrown away.

To repeat it’s a good start but we do need a bit more fat to bulk it up. A capital growth fund, tax incentives, input of government land at scale – all will help. Let’s get cooking.

 

CHIA NSW Exchange a Success!

Thank you to all of our members and guests who attended the September CHIA NSW Exchange. We hope you both enjoyed and took away useful information from the sessions you attended. If you would like to give feedback on event, please email brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au for a link to the feedback form.

Speaker slides from the Exchange are available here: https://goo.gl/SXCi8R

Photos are available here: https://bit.ly/2Nn3sWX. If you would like a hi res version of an image, please contact brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au

Our next CHIA exchange will be in June 2019 but there will be plenty of events in between. Watch this space.

 

The Connection between Domestic Violence and Homelessness

AN INTERVIEW WITH GUDRUN BURNET by Sue Cripps

In August 2018, the National Homelessness Conference in Melbourne heard that the homelessness and affordable housing crisis is getting worse with nothing to indicate this trend will be significantly reversed. At the same time, efforts to reduce the unacceptable level of domestic violence are also struggling to have an impact. Yet as this interview with an acknowledged expert demonstrates, housing availability is a, probably the, key to reducing the ongoing exposure to abuse by victims of domestic violence.

This interview was conducted by Sue Cripps in London with Gudrun Burnet of the Peabody Trust, a large housing association in the UK, and looks at what social housing landlords can do to help reduce the impacts of domestic and family violence.

Could you tell me a little about your background and what led to your current role?

I started my career on the National Domestic Violence Helpline 15 years ago and then got a job as a domestic abuse support worker in South London where I qualified as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) which in the UK means you are qualified to work with families experiencing domestic abuse who are at significant risk of harm or death. I was then promoted to floating support coordinator across South London.

In this role it became apparent to me that housing was fundamental in all the work I was doing with families. However, I found the response I got was limited or non-existent. So, nine years ago I started working with Peabody and have supported them over the years to improve their response and identification of domestic abuse.

Peabody has been creating opportunities for Londoners since 1862, when it was established by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody. The housing charity owns and manages more than 55,000 homes, providing affordable housing for around 111,000 people. Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a major issue in Australia, which I know having recently visited as part of a Churchill Fellowship and this trip taught me that there is an amazing opportunity to share best practice across the world.

We are very interested in the innovative approach Peabody Trust has taken to help the victims and their families. Can you tell us more about the work you are doing and why it is so important?

As well as bricks and mortar, Peabody provides a wide range of community programmes in their neighbourhoods, including help with employment and training, health and wellbeing projects, family support programmes and a dedicated care and support scheme.

Peabody has shown the vital role Housing Providers can play in identifying and supporting families affected by domestic abuse. Housing providers have unique access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, through regular contact with residents carrying out services such as repairs and community development activities. Housing provider employees are trusted and accessible and are considered by many more approachable than the police or other statutory agencies.

In the UK, on average two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner. Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse: 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population). In 2008, Peabody changed our approach to domestic abuse including training, updated policies and procedures and proactively publishing our work externally and internally.

Do you have any statistics or other information about the effectiveness of the approach/model you are developing?

That is why over 3 years ago Gentoo, Peabody and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence created the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). It brings together their combined best practice and is the UK benchmark on how the housing sector can improve their response to domestic abuse. It is underpinned by 8 priorities including policy & procedure, case management, risk management, partnership working, equality & diversity, staff training and publicity for customers in the support a housing provider can offer. We were also funded in 2017 by the Home Office to create a free online toolkit which any housing provider can access here.

In addition to the toolkit we are running free workshops all over the UK to increase awareness and cover the 8 priority areas in more depth to support housing providers to attain accreditation.

At Peabody and Gentoo (two of the founding partners of DAHA), this approach has had a significant impact on reporting rates and understanding of domestic abuse and its dynamics. At Peabody, over 9 years, there has been an increase in reporting of 1,425% and we get a new case reported to us on average every 3 days. In research undertaken by Safelives, Gentoo tenants accessed support from Gentoo’s specialist team one year earlier than the national dataset (made up of specialist domestic abuse services) demonstrating the unique role that housing providers can have with their customers.

Recently we launched in partnership with Alison Inman, the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Women’s Aid the Make a Stand campaign to ask housing providers in the UK to make a pledge to implement four key activities that would make a difference to their tenants and staff which include:

  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your residents
  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your staff
  • Publish information on local and national domestic abuse services
  • Appoint someone in your organisation at a senior level to lead this.

The momentum of this now is incredible.

As with many complex issues, one of the key solutions is always collaborating effectively with support services and other partners to ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. What thoughts do you have on how this can be progressed?

The key to this is raising awareness across the world and understanding that housing providers do and can play a vital role in responding to families experiencing domestic abuse. I have trained over 50 Housing Provider’s globally and am the housing representative for the national Violence Against Women’s and Girls (VAWG) stakeholder panel hosted by the Home Office.

I am also involved in a European Project called ‘Safe At Home’ which is about disseminating training across the EU and in particular the UK and the Netherlands.

As part of my Winston Churchill Fellowship I visited Australia and was asked to be part of your launch of the toolkit via Skype which was a first for me. It is astounding the cross over and partnership work we can do across the globe and I could not be more excited that some of the tools we use here are being used in Australia.

I have also had the opportunity to speak at international conferences in Canada, USA, Czechoslovakia, Brighton, Belfast, Brussels, and The Hague about my work in housing and domestic abuse. I am a trustee of Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and was shortlisted for Red Magazine’s Pioneering Woman of the Year Award 2016.

Can you tell us what approach is being taken to support housing workers as they engage with perpetrators of DFV?

Housing providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to domestic abuse in their communities. Furthermore, through publicity and campaigns they can raise awareness of the issue to ensure communities show zero tolerance to perpetrators of domestic abuse and support and help those that need it. Housing Providers are also able to make domestic abuse a breach of tenancy to hold perpetrators to account for this heinous crime.

CONCLUSION

This interview with Gudrun demonstrates the advantages of seeking ideas and policies to manage social issues from across the globe. Unfortunately, as Australia’s homelessness and housing crisis deepens it is also possible the effects to overcome domestic violence will be significantly impacted. From an Australian perspective, our decision makers need to look more closely at the overseas experiences in taking an integrated whole-of-life solution to domestic violence and indeed many other social problems.

 

The Centre for Training in Social Housing has released its new accredited program

The Centre for Training in Social Housing has just released its new accredited program commencing October 2018. We are still providing training in the Certificate IV Social Housing and Diploma of Community Service with an emphasis on training in areas of high demand.  Our course, content centres on social services and community-based work that addresses a wide range of issues including mental health, domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drugs work and suicide prevention. Models of practice in case management, recovery orientated practice and strengths based approaches are demonstrated throughout all units of study.

We have expanded training options in the Diploma of Community Services to include specialisations in Case Management or Social Housing or elective units of study in Leadership and Management. We will be introducing further electives in Asset Management in 2019.

We offer professional development and contextualised training to community organisations, and we specialise in Cultural Awareness, Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs, and Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence have been in demand across the sector.

Our training is delivered by industry and training experts with specialist knowledge and skills in the community housing industry. Our trainers are all currently working in the industry, have all obtained a diploma or higher qualification in their relevant field, and have obtained a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, or higher.

We provide trainers to work one-on-one with participants who require extra assistance to ensure they understand the concepts and knowledge required. High levels of satisfaction for training and professional development are recorded below:

Figure 1: Student satisfaction with our delivery of the CHC42215 Certificate IV in Social Housing and the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services

 

 

If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au

 

AHURI National Housing Conference 2019

The biennial National Housing Conference is the single largest cross-sectoral event in Australasia for the social and affordable housing sectors.

AHURI will be convening the 2019 National Housing Conference in Darwin from 28-30 August 2019—the first time the conference has been held in the Northern Territory. More information about NHC 2019 will be released in the second half of 2018.

Watch this space for more information as it comes: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/events/national-housing-conference-2019

 

Bonnie Women’s Support Services FREE Publication

Bonnie Women’s Support Services has developed this excellent resource which features stories about a diversity of women making choices for change, and includes some helpful domestic violence support service numbers. This is a great resource for CHPs to have in their reception areas for people to pick up and read whilst they are waiting.  It would also be a good resource for CHP staff to read, if they were interested.

We highly recommend visiting the website and requesting some copies.

 

‘No Place Like Home’ Exhibition

Link Housing is hosting a very special Community Art Exhibition ‘No Place Like Home’ from Thursday 27 September – 26 October 2018

It is the third year of this exhibition, showcasing the talents of the most creative in our community and bringing awareness to the need for safe and affordable housing.

You can find the exhibition opening times here.

 

Anti-Poverty Week – 14-20 October 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link Housing: new offices open for business

Link Housing has moved, with two new offices open for business as of September. Link Housing’s Social Housing Management Transfer is set to go live in December and the new offices are located in the heart of the FACS Northern Sydney District, providing good access for tenants and plenty of space for new staff.

New office details:

Level 10, 67 Albert Avenue, Chatswood 2067 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

3-5 Anthony Rd, West Ryde NSW 2114 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

New Staff Announcement

Hi, I’m Chad the new Coordinator for ACHIA, the new peak body for Aboriginal Community Housing. I have spent the last 10 years working in the community services sector working with Aboriginal families and youth.

I have experience in program development and management and worked at Muru Nanga Mai as a youth worker then went to Kari Limited where I worked in the community programs team. Then I moved to Youth Off the Streets, where my roles were Cultural Coordinator/Manager/Director Aboriginal Services for over 5 years. In that role, I worked all over NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

Some highlights in this time were establishing outreaches in Maroubra, Logan and Bourke and developing a mobile semi-trailer project through a partnership with Linfox that has the capacity to travel to remote places and set up as a portable Youth Centre with staff working from the trailer. I was also awarded 2017 Employee of the Year with Youth Off the Streets.

I’ll now be supporting the ACHIA interim committee with their work.  It’s an exciting time for the sector and we’ll be consulting widely with Aboriginal Community Housing Providers about their priorities and supporting a membership drive leading into committee elections in December.

I will be visiting different communities in the next few months to discuss the membership drive and how ACHPs can become members to show their support and to be a part of the vision ACHIA has moving forward.

If you would like to get in touch, please email me at chadr@communityhousing.org.au or call 0438 038 269

Housing WORKS August Edition

CHIA NSW are extremely pleased to be partnering with the Australasian Housing Institute to present this special edition of HousingWORKS. In addition to the usual excellent features, there is a whole section dedicated to the Everybody’s Home Affordable Housing Conference that was held at the end of June 2018. Read articles from some of the contributors and see who you can spot in the pictures.

http://communityhousing.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/HousingWORKS_August_WEB.pdf

 

 

 

 

Housing Matters – August 2018

CEO Report

I have just spent a few weeks in the UK and Sweden and in both countries there was plenty of discussion and debate about social and affordable housing. I’ve penned a few thoughts on Sweden in the article below and already mentioned Scotland and its five year strategies many times before. So to England, where the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has led to signs of a renewed focus on ways to improve landlord’s accountability to their tenants. And so it should, but as this article last week illustrates, there is a lot to do to reassure tenants that their health and safety is paramount.

Here at CHIA NSW, the Board has been debating its vision for the community housing industry. We clearly want both the Commonwealth and State governments to do more and invest big time in social and affordable housing to reduce housing stress experienced by growing numbers of Australian households – see Compass Housing’s  ‘The Affordable Housing Income Gap’ for an accessible summary of the current state of the nation.

Understandably here at CHIA NSW we believe that community housing is a big part of the solution and our aim is to see the sector grow. But equally clearly this has to be ‘good’ growth, for a clear purpose and with strong community outcomes.

Last week I read a fine piece of writing by Prof Mark Stephens  Professor of Public Policy at Heriot University riffing off the English Social Housing Green Paper  to cover in one concise article the challenges facing all providers of social and affordable housing and that paramount need to keep tenants at the heart of what we do. I recommend it to everyone.

CHIA NSW Exchange

The CHIA NSW Exchange is coming up on the 12th and 13th of September! The CHIA NSW Exchange is a sector wide opportunity that allows members from across the state to hear from industry leaders regarding sector innovation and policy updates, as well as ideas sharing and networking opportunities.  The CHIA NSW Exchange is free to any Full Member of CHIA NSW, including staff and Directors. You can register here.

National Homelessness Conference

The National Homelessness Conference, held in Melbourne, attracted more than 800 delegates from across Australia and beyond for two full days of the very latest developments and innovations to end homelessness.

Key note presentations from high profile international speakers included Professor Marah Curtis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) on the intersection between housing stability and wellbeing, Juha Kaakinen of Y-Foundation (Finland) on the housing first approach and Finland’s success in reducing homelessness, and Professor Nicholas Pleace of the University of York (UK) with a comparative analysis of housing first approaches in different jurisdictions.

A standout contribution came from our very own Aboriginal Specialist, Paula Coghill, who joined the opening plenary session to speak to the topic Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness. Homelessness did not exist in Australia before the invasion, so the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain massively overrepresented in homelessness counts is nothing short of a national travesty.

‘As First Nations people, we were the first to be homeless in this country’ said Paula  ‘and 239 years later, we’re still homeless’.

Highlighting the ongoing impact of dispossession, colonisation, displacement and violence, Paula called for self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities working to address homelessness and the widespread shortage of affordable housing. Aboriginal communities face unique challenges – from overcrowding to high rates of incarceration and the ongoing removal of children from their families. But of course, it is these communities who are best placed to implement strategies to address these challenges. And it is the responsibility of the mainstream service sector to support this self-determination.

In NSW, the homelessness service sector has formalised its commitment to reconciliation and working collaboratively and respectfully with Aboriginal people and communities through the Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness Accord.

With the elections for the first Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA) board coming up in November, we look forward to seeing more innovative policies, programs and initiatives by Aboriginal organisations, for Aboriginal people and communities.

The Australian Conference of Economists

Supply, Supply, Supply – and other stories about Australia’s housing affordability problem – a slightly irreverent synopsis of my day with the economists – Deborah Georgiou Head of Policy and Communications, CHIA NSW.

It’s always good to get out of your own bubble and listen to the views of economists! That’s what I was lucky enough to do when attending the Australian Conference of Economists in July. The issues of housing affordability were high on the agenda with speakers including the eminent Professor Rachel Ong from Curtin University, the newish kid on the block Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute and Peter Abelson from Applied Economics Pty who has a long and distinguished career advising successive governments.

The panel in the Great Debate on Housing Affordability was firmly split between those that thought that supply would fix housing affordability problems for all but the most marginalised households, and Rachel, whose early research on new supply price inelasticities indicates that we can’t just build our way out of unaffordability. She commented that there was actually enough supply and that this hadn’t improved affordability.

Brendan thought that if we had kept up with increasing demand from un-forecast higher levels of immigration house prices would have been kept in check and was firmly of the view that we needed to concentrate on increasing supply.

Peter said house prices had risen evenly across capital cities in Australia and that therefore prices were increasing as a result of national drivers. He stated there has been no increase in unaffordability as housing costs as a percentage of income have been around 20% for the last 10 years  – in his view the problem is all about the cost of a deposit and he supported first home owner grants.

In the midst of all of this my favourite session of the day was about the impact of playgrounds on property prices: evidence from Australia presented by Dr Syed Hasan, Massey University – apparently if you build homes within 300-500 metres from a pocket park it will add more than 5% to their value – economics at its best!

Cities for Us Summit

On 25 July, SSROC and Shelter NSW hosted a summit on density, local infrastructure and liveability.

The summit focused on the challenges ahead for Sydney and how, in the context of higher density living how we can think about the concepts of fairness, equity and inclusiveness.

The summit featured a wide range of speakers, and looked three key themes:

  • Implementing the GSC Plans, looking at integration, collaboration and governance
  • Funding the delivery of local infrastructure and affordable rental housing
  • Engaging with communities to help them have a say as their built environment changes

Highlights of the summit included Dr Marcus spiller talking about what could change to better fund local infrastructure and affordable housing (read more about this here) and Monica Barone talking about engaging communities in the City of Sydney.

The outcome of the summit will be a communique for the Planning Minister so watch this space.

Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women Report Launched

On 23 August 2018, the National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group delivered a paper, Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women.

The paper identifies the systemic and compounding causes of older women’s homelessness, examines the devastating impact of gendered economic inequality and the key policy areas that require attention. It outlines a national agenda to address this issue, including additional permanent social and affordable housing options for women and special measures to assist women at retirement age who have not accumulated adequate superannuation. Action is urgently needed to address the alarming 31% rise in homelessness amongst older women between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

The report goes on to call for the establishment of a Seniors Housing Gateway Program, as well as expansion of the Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) Program and better consideration of housing adequacy in national aged care policy and programs.

Women’s Housing Company CEO and National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group member, Debbie Georgopoulos, said “housing is amongst the most basic of needs; it’s essential that a national housing strategy provides the affordable, permanent housing that is essential to ageing well.”

Cracks emerging in the Scandinavian housing model

– Wendy Hayhurst, CEO , CHIA NSW.

Being a housing tragic wherever I go on holiday there’s an irresistible temptation to learn how different places tackle affordable housing. This year it was tropical Stockholm, a city that was experiencing its hottest-ever weather. This explains why we ended up passing one of the city’s municipal housing estates on the way to joining the locals at the nearest beach.  Although, like other estates we saw, it was large and rather functional-looking, it seemed well kept and was flanked by an impressive series of sports and play facilities all well-used by a multicultural crowd.  So far so Scandinavian as I had assumed the region’s long-standing reputation for decent social benefits and its relative egalitarianism would translate into an enviable affordable housing system.

So it was a bit of a shock to find stories such as the one from the BBC suggesting that Stockholm was one place ‘you would never find a home’ and another article explaining that the waiting list for apartments in the city had risen to 580,000 in July 2017 – more than doubling since 2007. Wait times averaged nearly 11 years – well over 20 in central areas. So what was the story?

For a start Stockholm needs a lot of housing to keep pace with its growing population. It is the fastest growing capital in Europe with proportionally high rates of immigration and one of the highest birth rates too. Housing supply simply hasn’t kept up but that isn’t by any means the whole story. In a fascinating article[1] Brett Christophers from Uppsala University clearly explains the post-war evolution of the Swedish housing system including the “Million Program” – the 1960s Social Democrat government housing scheme to build 100,000 new homes each year for 10 years. An extraordinary 40% of these were built by the state. Dr Christophers’s title ‘A Monstrous Hybrid’ encapsulates his theory well. In a nutshell he argues that relatively recent shifts in policy to marketise housing combined with retention of key regulatory features have served to reduce opportunities for lower income households to find good quality, stable affordable housing.  How so?

First it is important to understand a bit about Sweden’s housing tenure mix and key features. Until the 1990s the country’s housing policy was internationally renowned for its active support for ‘tenure-neutrality’ – promoting equal standards, costs, and occupier rights for renters and owners that aimed to equalize their tax benefits and social status. This started to change in 1991 when the new centre-right government began dismantling this policy and brought in market reforms triggering public housing privatisation, and privileging home ownership.

While traditional homeownership which is mainly confined to houses rather than multi-unit blocks – has remained relatively stable at circa 41% of all housing; there has been a sharp rise in tenant owned apartments – or bostadsrätt a form of coop housing since 1990 from 15% to 23% in 2016. Tenants pay a basic fee or down payment (financed via a mortgage) and an annual fee to the co-op for the right to occupy a unit indefinitely. Tenants can transfer (sell) the ‘occupancy right’ or share, via an open bid auction style sale. This tenure type benefits from same tax relief granted to owner-occupiers and increasingly involves higher income households.

Public housing has fallen back from 25% of all housing to 16% in the last 25 years.  Although owned and controlled by municipalities (Councils) it is operated by arms length public shareholder companies. Theoretically it remains available ‘for everyone’ regardless of income or other circumstance. The companies constructed homes using state loans, and received tax advantages, government guarantees and large interest subsidies.

Private rental housing – 18% in 2016 – mainly offers secure tenancies and is remains generally rent-controlled atlevels historically pegged to those charged by the municipal housing companies. Recent changes mean that rent setting is now increasingly influenced also by the general level of private sector rents – over time this may mean more a divergence in rents between the two sectors.

So what has changed? First, municipal housing company privileges  have been substantially reduced and MHCs now have to compete on a roughly equal footing with private landlords. Portfolio ageing and declining public subsidy have generated cost pressures leading to sell-offs (especially of more attractive stock) to both the co-op sector and to sitting tenants at heavily discounted prices.

Secondly, home ownership – including the co-op version – has become more financially attractive. In the 1990s access to mortgages was made easier and a credit guarantee for first-time homebuyers was introduced in 2008. Other incentives include mortgage interest tax deduction, a low ceiling on property tax, and deferred capital gains tax on primary residence.

Thirdly, housing allowances for low income households have been ‘slashed’ with a 70% reduction in households entitled and claiming these between 1995 and 2009.

A key features of the Swedish regulatory system which exacerbates problems for lower income households needing to access a tenancyis the operation of the bostadsformedlingar – the rental queuing system administered via housing exchanges (see here for an example ). This covers both the public and most of the private sectors. Length of time in the queue is a key criterion along with applicant preferences on location and size, and the maximum rent they are willing to pay; and an assessment of priority ‘needs’. The latter can take precedence over time in the queue with Councils setting the attributes for their areas.

However, landlords’ discretion is considerable and can, reportedly, override stated allocation principles. Equally, vacancy advertising is not universal , partly because of the healthy black market that has developed given high demand for properties and the opportunity for landlords to charge rather more than the regulated rent level. Another factor is that tenants have ‘considerable rights to transfer their rental contract or privately organise a direct swap of flats’. Both tend to work against lower income households.

So what options do lower income households have? The most common alternative is to rely on a series of short-term, second-hand contracts increasingly widespread in both the private rental and co-op sectors. Tenants have considerable rights to sub-let entire homes, though sub-tenants lack full protection on rent levels or security.

The shortage of affordable housing is predictably leading to rapidly rising rates of housing stress and deprivation.  While in the past mental illness and social issues like abuse tended to be key factors, there are now more people becoming homeless because they have a low income – young people, immigrants and older people on pensions.

There is currently little sign of any national strategy and into the vacuum are piecemeal short term (temporary housing) or ‘boutique’ initiatives such as a crowd funded scheme for co-op housing neither likely to do much for the many households missing out on decent homes.  Maybe Sweden needs its own ‘alla hemma’ (Everybody’s – or All at – Home) campaign.

I would like to thank Annika Wahlberg, Secretary General at the International Union of Tenants for kindly reviewing the article and advising on obvious errors. The opinions are my own.

[1] Brett Christophers (2013) A Monstrous Hybrid: The Political Economy of Housing in Early Twenty-first Century Sweden, New Political Economy, 18:6, 885-911, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2012.753521

A Focus on Older People: Ageing on the Edge – Let’s Change This

At the National Housing Conference on the 28th November 2017 we launched the NSW Ageing on the Edge reportThe Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes’ to a packed hall who listened to a stellar line up including the wonderful Susan Ryan and the indefatigable Jeff Fielder talk about the many, many older people who are reaching retirement without a safe secure and affordable place to call home. We heard from two older women too who after a lifetime of hard work were being forced to eat into their super capital to fund the rent or facing the prospect of successive short term rentals.

This was a report that could not sit on a shelf and gather dust. The 2016 census data released after the conference only reinforced the need for action. There were 6411 homeless older people on census night a mind blogging 43% increase since the last census. Across Australia older people (aged 55plus) now make up 16% of the total homeless population.

Which is why the groups who worked with the report authors HAAG and University of Adelaide as advisors agreed to continue to work together on practical projects that will make a difference not just by reducing homelessness and rental stress but also promote better more responsive housing services for older people. Our membership is drawn from the older persons’ sector, NSW government, housing providers, homelessness services and even, believe or not, older people themselves….

And we won’t just talk. The group have already started to put together some concrete projects for our first year including:

  • Filling the data and information gaps that were identified in the development of the report (e.g. information on Aboriginal older persons housing and support needs, CALD older people)
  • Bringing the aged care and community housing sectors together in a project that will help older people in social housing age in place
  • Working together to share data and collectively routinely produce indicators around older peoples housing/ homelessness
  • Continue to advocate and promote a service that will help older people at risk of homelessness find suitable accommodation. Victoria has its Home at Last, so why can’t NSW?

If you want to join us or find out more then get in touch via info@communityhousing.org.au

Energy Training

CHIA NSW has announced another round of free energy training for Community Housing staff and tenants. The training was designed by The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON), The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and CHIA SNW to respond to rises in energy prices in recent years.

The training is designed to help reduce energy costs and promote energy efficiency. Topics covered include:

  • understanding the energy sector
  • how to choose an energy contract
  • energy use in the home
  • accessing energy hardship programs

The next training dates are:

  • Liverpool: 3rd October 2018
  • Sydney CBD: 30th October 2018
  • Dubbo: 6th December 2018

More sessions are planned throughout 2019 and will be announced in the New Year.

To apply for a free place or for information click see: Energy training flyer with application form.

Housing and support help turn lives around: Heading Home evaluation

Wentworth CEO, Stephen McIntyre; Susan Templeman MP, Federal Member for
Macquarie; Mayor of Hawkesbury, Marry Lyons-Buckett; and Melissa Grah-McIntosh from Wentworth

During this year’s Homelessness Week, multi-awarded Heading Home project, led by Wentworth Community Housing, launched today an independent evaluation of the impact its activities have had in the Nepean district and on the lives of people rehoused during Registry Week. The report brings information on remaining challenges and points to local housing solutions.

As a result of Registry Week, held in November 2016, 26 people and nine families were rehoused in Penrith, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. This is in addition to existing housing and supporting services in the area. At follow up after six months, the study found 24 people and eight families remained housed and over 92% reported improved wellbeing.

Once housed, 71% of people had more support to call on in time of a crisis and 50% had started using a new health or community service.

“The people who participated in the study said that having a safe place to live has been most helpful for them to get their life sorted,” Wentworth Chief Executive Officer, Stephen McIntyre, said.

At a community level, the report shows that the people in the Nepean region, including influencers such as MPs, Councillors, community, and business leaders are now more informed about local homelessness.

On the challenging side, the report revealed a shortage of affordable local rental properties for permanent housing.

“The main focus of our project group now is to find local low-cost housing solutions, especially for people looking for a smaller place to live that they can afford.”

“We want to build on the strong community momentum achieved to tackle the shortage of affordable permanent housing.”

At the launch of the report, Wentworth will also announce plans for a Garden Flat EXPO to encourage local home owners to invest in garden flats.

“We think this is a win-win, where homeowners can secure a regular income and local people seeking a smaller home can stay in our communities.”

Link Housing is Moving

Local community housing provider, Link Housing, has recently opened a new office in West Ryde and will soon unveil new larger office facilities in Chatswood on 17th September 2018.

The new offices will give the not-for-profit organisation the space to continue to provide quality, client-focused and comprehensive service to their growing community of housing applicants and residents within Northern Sydney and beyond.

Link Housing CEO, Andrew McAnulty, who has been at Link Housing for five years now, has led the organisation through a period of significant growth. Last year the organisation won tenders to manage 235 specialist disability accommodation tenancies and almost 1900 social housing tenancies, previously managed by the NSW Government.

The new Link Housing West Ryde office is located minutes from West Ryde train station and in the same building as the FACS Northern district office, allowing Link Housing to work closely with FACS in the lead up to the SHMT “go live” in December this year.

In the Media

www.foreground.com.au/public-domain/development-challenge-sydney-olympic-park

www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/07/housing-stress-increases-social-housing-renters

MEDIA RELEASE: HILDA highlights urgent need for more social and affordable housing to beat housing stress

The 2018 HILDA report highlights the urgent need for more social and affordable housing in NSW the state’s peak community housing body said today.

Acting CHIA NSW CEO Deborah Georgiou said the report showed housing stress is at an all time high in Sydney, with skyrocketing housing prices and rents hitting low income earners, single parents and older renters the hardest.

People are usually considered in housing stress if housing costs make up 30% of a household’s income and that places the household in the lowest 40% of income distribution.

“HILDA shows that single parents and older people are doing it particularly tough,” Ms Georgiou said.

“There are very, very few affordable rental options in Sydney for people surviving on a minimum wage or government support.

“Yes real estate prices in Sydney have dropped slightly, but whether a house is 12 or 11 times the average income is immaterial when you’re a renter struggling just to keep a roof over your head and your income hasn’t gone up.

“It’s putting pressure on people, and it’s putting pressure on our social housing safety net, which just doesn’t have enough homes to support people who need urgent relief.”

Modelling for CHIA NSW shows that NSW needs 12,000 new social and affordable homes a year to keep place with current demand and expected population growth.

CHIA NSW is calling for planning reforms in NSW to encourage more investment in not-for-profit social and affordable housing in local communities across NSW.

“Between 2012 and 2020, 18 of our largest community housing providers will have delivered $1 billion in new projects in 34 local government areas, with capacity to deliver much more,” Ms Georgiou said.

“The NSW Government has some programs in place to deliver more social and affordable homes on the ground but we need a real commitment at all levels of government to secure planning reforms and more funding.”

Download PDF: HILDA highlights urgent need for more social and affordable housing to beat housing stress

Housing Matters – July 2018

CEO Conference Overview

A month on from the 2018 Affordable Housing Conference – Everybody’s Home – we extend our sincere thanks to the sponsors, speakers, facilitators and delegates who made it such a success and a conference worth tweeting about.  In 2016 we said we were ready to meet the challenge of delivering the additional social and affordable homes needed to tackle homelessness and housing stress. Since then it has been a case of holding steady as – despite progress on social housing management transfers, announcements on the Social and Affordable Housing Fund and Communities Plus and most recently the NHFIC’s establishment – we are all still waiting for Governments to launch some big time programs to fund serious numbers of new homes.

However, when I say holding steady there was little evidence that the nearly 600 delegates and well over 100 speakers were any less enthused and full of ideas than two years ago.  Over the two days we heard from expert speakers from across the globe talk about clear directions ahead for the housing industry and calls to action. There were too many good things to mention them all but I will highlight a few, either because they are going to stick in my memory or because I learnt something new.

So here is my list – in no particular order.  It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that any conference needs politicians to demo its relevance and we were lucky to have two – the Hon Pru Goward, MP  (Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Social Housing, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) and  Michael Daley, MP (Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure) explaining what the Government is doing and what the Opposition would suggest as alternatives.

Barb Shaw the inaugural Co-Chair of Aboriginal Housing NT explained in clear, compelling language why investment in remote Indigenous housing so badly needs restoring. Richard Eccleston from the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of Tasmania did the seemingly impossible – made tax policy (relatively) easy to grasp and reform politically possible. And while David Orr was personally inspiring he was trumped by that video – the best promotional pitch for the NFP housing sector ever – and John Murray from the Community Housing Tenants Network and Link Housing gave him a run for his money in the panel discussion.

Rosanna McGregor from the Cariboo Friendship Society and Aboriginal Housing Management Association in Canada urged policy-makers to include Indigenous leaders in solving Indigenous challenges and spoke movingly about managed alcohol programs in her hometown, William’s Lake BC. Emily Cadik from the US Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition told us we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just leverage off the initiative that’s delivered three million homes for seven million people in the States and Stephen Anthony at Industry Super explained how we might…

Then there was Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute who did his renaissance man act by popping up to talk about the economy, housing supply, inclusionary zoning and tax reform, and Marcus Spiller from SGS who suggested that the 500K new homes the Everybody’s Home argues  for may be a shade too few. Saul Eslake reminded us that supply might be the answer – if the State got back into the business of investing as it did in the 1950s.

It was also lovely to catch up again with David Condliffe, Executive Director at the Center for Community Alternatives that promotes reducing reliance on incarceration and supports individuals who have been, to reintegrate into their communities.  I met David last year and was very impressed with his work and its relevance to a project we were kicking off to look at housing pathways for people leaving prison.

We were sent on our way by a nearly all women panel of Rebecca Huntley, Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore,  Susan Ryan AO, Tania Mihailuk MP, Jenny Leong MP and our anything but ‘token male’ Paul Green MLC who all seemed to be in furious agreement that “everybody deserves to have safe secure shelter, and that’s what housing is”. It’s a right, not a privilege. Let’s hope the start button is pressed soon.

CHIA NSW and Homelessness NSW also want to thank all the sponsors for AHC 2018. It would not have happened without them: www.ahc2018.com.au/sponsors-exhibitors/

Link to David Orr’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv8PSlby0Qc

CHIA NSW Exchange

The next CHIA NSW Exchange will take place on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th of September at the Mercure Sydney.  Already confirmed across two days are meetings for CEOs, Finance Officers, Middle Managers, Community Development, Asset Network, NDIS Network, Planning & Development, and Performance/Outcomes.  More details and ticket information will be posted as it becomes available.

National Homelessness Conference 2018

Last chance to register!

The National Homelessness Conference 2018 will be held next month in Melbourne on August 6-7 and tickets are selling fast!

Key highlights of the program include:

  • Five keynote speakers – Professor Marah Curtis (US), Professor Nicholas Pleace (UK), Juha Kaakinen (Finland), Martin Foley (Vic Minister for Housing and Homelessness) and Sally Capp (Lord Mayor of Melbourne)
  • Three major plenary panel sessions examining national priority responses to homelessness; responding to the criminalisation of inner-city homelessness, and media reporting on homelessness
  • 12 concurrent sessions examining best practice responses from across Australia.

View the full program and register now at www.ahuri.edu.au/events/homelessness2018

NSW Boarding Houses – A welcome ‘no change’ to homes delivered by not for profit community housing providers

On 29 March 2018 the Hon Anthony Roberts MP the Planning  and Housing Minister announced  that in response to community concerns new boarding houses would be required to provide 0.5 car parking spaces per room instead of the current 0.2,  where the buildings are located near to public transport. While CHIA NSW appreciated that residents might be concerned about any negative effects from new development in their localities, we also knew that many other residents in the same areas were in need of just the sort of homes these new boarding houses could provide. Moreover, the evidence from our members – not for profit community housing providers (CHPs) – was that boarding housing residents rarely owned cars. In some cases car spaces provided were even lying empty. When every space provided costs dollars that could go towards more affordable housing, we need to be sure resources aren’t being wasted.

CHPs who had built these homes also provided evidence that the increase in car parking spaces envisaged would have threatened the viability of many genuinely affordable schemes.

Happily this was no tokenistic consultation process. The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) listened and heard. They also watched. CHIA NSW and its members want to work with local communities to build homes that fit in and meet needs. Spare the time and watch these short videos that tell the story of two boarding houses in Summer Hill (managed by Hume Housing) and Wollstonecraft (managed by Link Housing).

And last week DPE announced that while car parking standards for boarding houses delivered under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (ARHSEPP) has been amended to 0.5 car parking spaces per boarding house room, an exception has been made where a not for profit ‘Social Housing Provider’ provides the accommodation. For the latter, existing standards remain in place. This exception is based “on feedback that Social Housing Providers play a unique role in providing boarding houses for lower income earners and other groups”.

The amended ARHSEPP is here.

Landcom Affordable Housing Prequalification Scheme

Landcom’s Affordable Housing Prequalification Scheme is an online tool that connects developers with nationally registered Community Housing Providers.

You can find the tool and more information at www.ProcurePoint.nsw.gov.au/scm4421 – see tab ‘Information for buyers’, then click on ‘How to buy from this scheme’.

Information about the scheme will be included in member newsletters for:

    • Property Council
    • Urban Taskforce
    • UDIA
    • Western Sydney Business Connection
    • Sydney Business Chamber

 

New World Wide Study shows what Australia can learn from the rest of the world about fixing the housing crisis with co-operative housing

Common Equity (NSW) is pleased to announce a new world-wide study to identify the extent and value of housing co-operatives around the world.

The research, commissioned by Australia’s Peak Co-op Housing Bodies; ‘ Articulating Value in Co-operative Housing’ was undertaken by researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of Newcastle. It analysed existing research in a dozen countries. The findings point to the significant benefits of Co-operative Housing Models.

  • Cost Savings: up to 14% lower capital and operating costs under the co-operative model
  • Social Capital: Stronger social networks and sense of community – higher than any other form of housing
  • Health & Wellbeing: Widespread reports that living in a housing co-operative provides a greater sense of physical, emotional, mental health and well-being
  • Resident Satisfaction: Widespread reports of lower costs, high quality homes with better security and housing stability

“The existing research indicates numerous potential benefits created by cooperative housing in many countries. This gives us a solid starting point for identifying the extent and nature of the value created by Australia’s housing co-operatives, including the value generated by the people who live in co-operatives” says Louise Crabtree, Senior Researcher, from Western Sydney University.

The researchers found widespread report of stronger social networks and support, and better relationships with neighbours, with higher reported levels of social capital than any other forms of social housing. Housing co-operative residents reported a strong sense of community and of ‘home’ and ‘safety’, with Canadians feeling that their neighbourhood is improved by the presence of housing co-operatives.

Based on the evidence from housing co-operatives in Canada it is clear that “social capital” even among poor resident populations, adds value to public investments in housing.

The research found that the economic benefits of co-operative housing are clear. Canada demonstrated that the co-operative housing sector cost 14% less in capital and operating costs than any other affordable housing model. And evidence in the United Kingdom suggests lower rates of arrears, faster re-letting and lower vacancy rates. Additionally, inference from Germany suggested that living in a co-operative might lead to reduced health care needs and costs too.

Common Equity CEO, James Brown says; ‘With the extent of housing co-operatives overseas, the evidence is clear that co-operative housing should be a more significant part of the housing mix in Australia to deliver more diversity and choice in affordable housing and to enhance the broader economic, social and community benefits. Especially at a time when in Australia, with one of the most diverse populations in the world, in which many are facing a housing crisis, this research provides valuable information to support the case for change’.

The full Research Report for Stage One will be released in mid-late August 2018. To find out more about Co-operative housing; www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpkzUVlaANk

A second stage of the Research is expected to commence by the end of 2018 and will quantify the extent to which co-operative housing delivers value in the Australian context.

For media enquiries and to contact researchers please contact:

Hayley Peacock-Gower
Common Equity
m: + 61 435 875 609 e: hayley@commonequity.com.au w: commonequity.com.au

Welcome Catherine Tracey and Brigitte Garozzo

Catherine is our new Head of Learning and Development in CHIA NSW’s Centre for Training in Social Housing.


Catherine Tracey has worked as a senior executive and senior manager in vocational education in both the public and private sectors. As the recently appointed Head of Learning and Development at CHIA NSW, Catherine’s passion and experience in vocational education, her desire to foster learning practices which engages the student and lead learning innovation will complement the work of the Centre for Training in Social Housing.

Catherine’s work in education is supported by her extensive experience within the social housing sector with over twenty years’ experience in the delivery of social housing in not for profit, state government and affordable housing. The challenges facing the sector and expected growth in innovative housing practices will be supported with appropriate, engaging and innovative educational programs.

Brigitte is our new Project Coordinator

Brigitte is an organiser and activist who has worked for various political organisations including as an Office Manager for Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon and an organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union. She is passionate about a variety of social justice issues including; worker’s rights, women’s and LGBTIQ rights, Palestinian justice, and universal housing for all. She is also a fully qualified florist and in her spare time loves to cook, garden, attend protests, and play with her ginger cat ‘Melon’. She is a member of the ASU.

Farewell and thank you from Lyndall Katz

It is with a mix of both excitement and sadness that I have resigned from CHIA NSW (the Federation). I am moving on to pursue other passions more fully and to be with family and friends.

I have been working at the Federation for 19 years, and was involved since its beginnings. I have been with CHIA NSW for one month – since its beginning! I was at North Coast Community Housing for 13 years. That’s 32 years – more than half my life (just) with you! And that’s not including the time I was working in women’s refuges at the start of my working life.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to know you and to work with you over the years. It’s a marvelous thing to be connected with other humans, righting wrongs to make the world a better place. That is what we attempt to do in our work together.

From an eager 19 year old feminist being excited to volunteer at the first women’s refuge in the 1970s; to moving to the north coast and randomly getting a job with North Coast Community Housing Co in 1987; to moving back to Sydney to work at the Federation in 2000, I have seen many changes.

We started with passion, activism, caring and “chutzpah.” Now we have a vibrant, growing, professional, well-respected community housing sector and that makes me proud. That’s not to say we haven’t had big losses, and faced big challenges, but as a sector we have hung in there, and continued to move forward. Our continued determination to keep the community focus in the work is one of the things that has kept me here in the face of such great change. I’m pleased to have been part of all that, and done my part towards all that.

Through the Federation I moved from providing service, to training and resourcing others to provide service. I liked that move – being part of the professionalisation of the sector from the start. Thanks for that chance. At NCCHC I was a student in the first ever-training program – HATPIN (Housing Associations Training Program In NSW). The Federation provided that training. All I remember is being at a resort once a month in Coffs Harbour with my colleagues from all over northern NSW sitting in the spa. I have a certificate to prove it! Ah times have changed!
I have loved working at the Federation training and resourcing the sector. It gives me so much pleasure to be with you in that environment. I got to know some of you well over many years and many roles, some from the start of your careers. That’s exciting. And I am pleased to have added my knowledge, skill and humour to that work.

The Federation has been a brilliant workplace for me. I won’t mention all the names – there are too many – but I do want to thank Jen Crowe for seconding me to the then Good Practice Unit in 1999, which brought about the change in focus of my career. There have been many changes in staff and structure since that time, but one constant is, and has been, a fabulous workplace – respectful, connected and, above all, hilarious.

I have had wonderful managers with different perspectives; been inspired by exciting and vibrant trainers; supported by excellent and patient administrative teams; partnered with policy and business development teams to resource the sector in good practice. I have made some good friends. And the “couch” sessions are always fun.

Thank you to all who have worked with me, for giving me a home in my workplace, in this important industry, and for caring with me about the work we do. Without all this I could not have stayed for so long. And it has been so long! So long!

With appreciation,
Lyndall

Senior Training and Project Officer, Centre for Training in Social Housing

In the media

https://www.domain.com.au/news/city-of-sydney-could-add-up-to-3600-affordable-homes-by-2030-if-extended-housing-levy-approved-20180625-h11tls-441522/

https://www.domain.com.au/news/if-scotland-can-do-it-australia-can-do-it-too-experts-push-for-affordable-housing-strategy-20180627-h11y44-442085/

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/residential-2/another-wake-up-call-on-australias-homelessness-and-affordable-housing-crisis

https://www.domain.com.au/news/nsw-government-to-donate-one-hectare-of-land-in-redfern-to-developers-for-first-buildtorent-program-in-australia-20180706-h12c0x-751259/

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/social-housing-tenants-and-renters-to-share-australias-first-buildtorent-building/news-story/d7d4e5ee6a7c9aea12d45b9aa53980a9?csp=3793afbab89ea1b10b4c8e4b670cd4b2 –

https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/nsw-launches-its-very-own-build-to-rent-scheme-in

https://theurbandeveloper.com/articles/nsw-pioneers-build-to-rent-in-redfern-

Conference media
https://www.afr.com/real-estate/establishing-buildtorent-in-australia-is-a-chickenandegg-game-20180628-h11z6x

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5495217/saul-eslake-reveals-tasmanias-decades-of-weak-housing-growth/

Recruitment for two new Aboriginal positions

Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist – Community Housing

This is an identified position and applicants must provide Confirmation of Aboriginality

Position type: Two-year contract full time (36.75 hrs per week)

Salary range $ Negotiable depending on experience

CHIA NSW is the peak industry body for community housing in NSW.  CHIA NSW is supporting the development of an Aboriginal peak for the Aboriginal community housing sector and now has around 60 Aboriginal member organisations.  We are looking for a dedicated and skilled Aboriginal Partnership Specialist to help us extend our work with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organisations.

The Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist will focus on building genuine partnerships between the Community Housing sector and the Aboriginal Community Housing sector and other key stakeholders, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.  This work is essential to support improved outcomes for Aboriginal tenants living in mainstream community housing.  Community Housing Providers (CHPs) are committed to providing better services for Aboriginal tenants and to building on their commitment to Aboriginal cultural competency and safety in their workplaces and service delivery.  This position will provide practical support and build partnerships to facilitate this process, working closely with the Aboriginal Coordinator ACHIA, and Aboriginal Specialist.

Position Description
Full advertisement

How to apply

If you would like to be considered for this position, please submit your resume together with your responses to the above criteria to: Recruitment@communityhousing.org.au.

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 31st July 2018

For further information contact Deborah Georgiou deborahg@communityhousing.org.au PH: 02 9690 2447 (x 204).

————————————————————————————————————————————-

Aboriginal Co-ordinator – ACHIA (Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association NSW)

This is an identified position and applicants must provide Confirmation of Aboriginality

Position type: Two-year contract full time (36.75 hrs per week)

Salary range $ Negotiable depending on experience

ACHIA is the new peak industry body for Aboriginal community housing providers in NSW.

The ACHIA co-ordinator will be responsible for providing support to the ACHIA committee and assisting them to make progress towards the organisation’s strategic aims.

This will include building ACHIA’s profile, communicating with its members and providing practical Secretariat support for the Committee.  It will also include support to develop ACHIA as an organisation – for example by consulting members to develop a strategic plan and to investigate funding opportunities.  The Co-ordinator will also develop policy positions with the Committee and contribute to submissions on behalf of ACHIA, working closely with the Aboriginal Specialist and Aboriginal Partnership specialist.

Position Description

How to apply

If you would like to be considered for this position, please submit your resume together with your responses to the above criteria to: Recruitment@communityhousing.org.au.

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 31st July 2018

For further information contact Deborah Georgiou deborahg@communityhousing.org.au PH: 02 9690 2447 (x 204).

 

 

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Housing, finance, community leaders highlight solutions

June 29, 2018

Housing, finance, community leaders highlight solutions

Sydney’s Everybody’s Home Affordable Housing Conference highlighted the unanimous agreement from housing, financial, and community leaders that Australia faces growing homelessness, social inequality and costs to the economy unless urgent action is taken to deliver investment in more social and affordable housing.

The two-day conference attracted speakers and delegates from Europe, New Zealand, the US and around Australia.

Speakers including Saul Eslake, Industry Super Chief Economist Stephen Anthony, Landcom CEO John Brogden, CHIA Australia and leading academics joined local councils, and organisations such as the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, Domestic Violence NSW, and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council to discuss solutions.

CHIA NSW CEO Wendy Hayhurst said the conference showed there’s agreement from across the spectrum that Australia must change tack on the way we are addressing housing affordability now to avoid catastrophic consequences in coming years.

“What is interesting is the diversity of people saying the same thing – we need to do something now, we already have the solutions, we can learn from the rest of the world, we just need the political will to see housing as critical economic infrastructure,” Ms Hayhurst said.

“There was furious agreement that we need more social housing on the ground for those who desperately need it, and to start thinking smarter about how we encourage large scale institutional investment in below market affordable rental housing.

“The Senate has just passed legislation to create the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NIFIC).

“The next step is to make it work through mechanisms such as the affordable housing tax credit system proposed by Stephen Anthony to close the financing gap and unlock institutional investment in affordable rental housing projects.

“The US housing credit system has delivered 3 million homes benefitting 7 million households since 1986. It’s not the only answer, but it’s certainly a very good one.”

Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan said it was encouraging to see the level of commitment to solving housing issues across the board.

“A healthy housing system is vital for a healthy economy and creating an Australia that cares for everybody in its community no matter where they live, or how much they earn,” Ms McKernan said.

“People who are homelessness are at the pointy end of a housing system that is broken.

“The solutions are there to fix it, but we need everyone to work together to make that happen so that everybody has a home.”

Download pdf of Media Release here.

Media contact: Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280

MEDIA RELEASE: NSW needs an extra 12,500 social and affordable homes a year

One in three new social and affordable rental homes Australian needs will need to be in NSW, a new study released ahead of today’s Everybody’s Home Affordable Housing Conference shows.

The analysis predicts NSW will need an additional 12,500 new social and affordable rental homes a year until 2026 to meet the current backlog and keep pace with the state’s expected population growth.

It includes 5,000 social housing homes a year until 2026 for low-income households and 7,500 affordable (below market) rental homes for people in rental stress

CHIA NSW CEO, Wendy Hayhurst said this amount of additional social housing would return the proportion of social housing to 6% of all NSW housing – the same levels as 20 years ago.

The affordable rental numbers are based on providing enough homes for lower income households not eligible for social housing but paying more than 30% of their income on rent – which would result in 2.5 % of housing properties being affordable rental housing.

“To put that into perspective, England expects 40% of its new housing will be affordable housing and New York is working towards 30% of all new housing being affordable housing by 2026,” Ms Hayhurst said.

“Of course this doesn’t take into account the housing needs of many key workers who earn a moderate/ decent wage so aren’t eligible for affordable housing but still struggle to find anywhere to rent near where they work.

“It means that people are moving further away to find cheaper housing and spend too many hours travelling back and forth to work, which will not boost the state’s economic productivity.”

In NSW, 240,000 renters – or 8.5% of households are classified as under rental stress.

More than 55,000 households are waiting are waiting for social housing, the state’s homelessness rate has grown three times faster than the national average.

Homelessness NSW CEO, Katherine McKernan said a chronic lack of housing is the biggest cause of homelessness.

“Homelessness in NSW increased by 37% between 2011 and 2016, this was driven by scarcity of social housing and a lack of affordable rentals,” Ms McKernan said.

“The additional funding of $61 million provided in the NSW Budget for homelessness is welcome, however, it isn’t focused in the right area – we need significant investment in social housing and housing first to really fix homelessness in NSW”

The CHIA NSW projections are at  http://communityhousing.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/1806-CHIA-Judy-Yates-research-report.pdf

Download Media Release as pdf

Media contact: Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280

Housing Matters – June 2018

 

CEO Introduction

June has been a busy month for us; the NSW Federation of Housing Associations moved office, launched its new website and started trading under a new name – CHIA NSW. At the same time we have been finalising arrangements for the NSW 2018 Affordable Housing Conference ‘Everybody’s Home’.  With the support of our sponsors – large and small – we have been able to assemble a great program with excellent speakers. We’ve had a few last minute additions and adjustments. A particular thanks to the Hon Paul Green MLC for joining the final panel session with the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, Tania Mihailuk MP and Jenny Leong MP.

One of our international speakers known to many of you, Craig Sanderson, CEO at Link Group in Scotland, has had to pull out after suffering a heart attack last week. Thankfully, the good news is that he’s recovering well and we look forward to seeing him out here another time. Craig’s place is being taken by Professor Kenneth Gibb, director of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and based at the University of Glasgow . Ken is preparing a video for us about ‘The challenges for a National Housing Strategy – the Scottish Experience’.

Ken’s session also features contributions from Scott Figenshow (NZ), Rosanna Mcgregor (Canada) and Hal Pawson. Brett Wake (National Manager Operations, CHL) will be facilitating a lively debate -with we hope plenty of audience participation -about what we all need to do to get Australia the national housing strategy it so badly needs.

CHIA NSW is pleased to see the National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) appoint its first chair, Brendan Crotty. We’ve long advocated for a bond aggregator  with Piers Williamson CEO at The Housing Finance Corporation our key note conference speaker back in 2016. Like the Australian Treasury led Affordable Housing Working Group we believe that the bond aggregator on its own isn’t sufficient to make much difference to the social and affordable housing numbers. Governments at both the Federal and State levels need to invest – through any combination of land, capital grant and tax incentive. Until they do the numbers of homeless people, households living in rental stress or those unable to leave substandard or overcrowded accommodation will continue to rise.

The NSW Government brought down its 2018 Budget on 19 June. The budget contained some additional resources for housing – circa $15m per annum over four years to assist responses to homelessness and a total of circa $33M over the same period for Aboriginal housing. Existing programs Communities Plus and the Social and Affordable Housing Fund are welcome but add only a small proportion of the new additional social and affordable homes needed across NSW. We can also anticipate more affordable housing via development contributions in coming years. But a lot more is going to be needed if the cost of living for many in the State is to be really addressed.  

ACHIA – NSW Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association

The ACHIA Interim Committee have much to celebrate this month. After their considerable hard work over the last 12 months, June has brought two pieces of excellent news. The Aboriginal Housing Office and NSW Depart of Family and Community Services have demonstrated their ongoing support by providing grant funding for another two years. We would like to acknowledge the many Government staff who have worked with to help establish ACHIA and give a special mention to Sally Kubiak and Nick Sabel at the AHO. The grant allows us to appoint additional staff to help co-ordinate ACHIA’s work and ensure the Aboriginal Community Housing Providers are well represented.

At the same time as the financial support came through the CHIA NSW Board approved a key foundational document – the Charter which describes how ACHIA will work and be governed.

A draft has been out for feedback and consultation with the sector and the final version is ACHIA Charter.

The ACHIA Committee believes that it is too early to aim for full independence and to set ACHIA up as separate legal entity. So at this early stage in ACHIA’s development CHIA NSW has offered to continue to provide the auspices for the establishment of ACHIA.   The CHIA NSW Board wishes to make it clear that the CHIA NSW does not have any interest of its own in retaining this role in the long-term and believes fully in self-determination.  CHIA NSW will support moves to further promote the independence of ACHIA (for example, by establishing ACHIA as a separate legal entity) whenever this is desired by ACHIA.

ACHIA’s Purpose

The purpose of ACHIA is to be the industry body for Aboriginal Community Housing Providers in NSW and in doing so:

  • promote the human rights of all Aboriginal people in NSW to decent, affordable and secure housing;
  • promote the right of all Aboriginal people to self-determination, including the right to choose a culturally appropriate social landlord;
  • develop and support public policy which promotes a more just housing system for Aboriginal people in NSW;
  • in partnership with counterpart organisations across Australia, develop and promote policy at a national level for housing justice and self-determination for Aboriginal people;
  • support the development of best practice in the provision of housing for Aboriginal people by encouraging networking and collaboration between Aboriginal Community Housing Providers; and
  • support the provision of culturally appropriate housing by mainstream community housing providers.

ACHIA will formally launch its Charter at the Aboriginal Caucus Day on 26th June.  We are planning to hold ACHIA elections before the end of 2018.

NSW Homelessness Strategy

In last month’s issue we highlighted the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 funded by Launch Housing and researched and written by UNSW’s City Futures  and Social Policy Research Centre, and University of Queensland’s  Institute for Social Science Research. It showed not just Sydney but also NSW experiencing increasingly high rates of homelessness. In five years homelessness in Sydney had jumped 48% in Sydney and 37% in NSW; far greater than elsewhere in Australia.

So the publication of the NSW Homelessness Strategy on June 10 setting out the Government’s five year plan to tackle homelessness is very welcome. Its focus is on preventing people slipping into homelessness, intervening early and providing better support services.

It does not shy away from the numbers and paints a picture of what lies behind those headline figures. In 2016/17, 36,000 young people, aged 24 or younger used specialist homelessness services – an increase of 37% from 2013/14. The report goes on to say ‘90% of young people experiencing homelessness have witnessed violence in their home, 60 per cent have been in OOHC, and 50 per cent have a reported mental health issue’.’’ Talking about domestic and family violence the report notes ‘Despite only making up 3.3 per cent of the national population, one quarter of people in Australia accessing SHS due to DFV identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.’ Older people make up an increasing proportion of homeless people. ‘More than 15 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are over the age of 55 and this figure is increasing. Between 2013/14 and 2016/17, NSW saw 88 per cent growth in the number of women over the age of 55 years accessing homelessness services.’

On top of the existing funding, an additional $15M per annum over four years is allocated to social impact investment to prevent homelessness, to expand sustaining tenancy supports and add to the transitional accommodation numbers.

Amongst the new initiatives is one to expand the use of universal screening tools for homelessness and risk of homelessness in schools so services can intervene early. The initiative is based on the Geelong Model that demonstrated that young people referred for assistance were able to maintain school attendance and did not slip into homelessness. At the other end of the age spectrum the intention is to ‘deliver targeted social housing options for older women in four to five locations, to be evaluated for expansion. Positively this includes reference to the model developed for the Sydney Women’s Homeless Alliance.

Also to be applauded is the focus on a whole of government approach exemplified by the development of the Human Services Outcomes Framework and its application for homelessness, including ‘introducing cross-agency requirements for reporting on homelessness outcomes’. Justice, Education and Health will also be involved. As referred to in last month’s Housing Matters but worth repeating is the whole of Government cost of keeping someone homelessness rather than providing them with a home and where necessary supports. A whole of Government approach allows a whole of government approach to counting the cost. See the evidence.

In one area the strategy possibly does not go far enough by including the role social landlords can play in sustaining tenancies. For example FACS has supported and continues to support projects that build on CHP’s existing practice to enhance responses to (for example) people experiencing domestic and family violence or who have complex needs. See an example here.

The strategy does not address the overwhelming shortage of social and affordable housing that is driving the rises in homelessness. It acknowledges the issue and references two existing initiatives that between them will add an extra 10,000 to 12,000 social and affordable homes over the next 10-15 years. As welcome as those these schemes are, this amount of new additional construction does not keep pace with population growth and means the existing shortfalls will increase. Tackling homelessness without more housing isn’t going to be easy.

Housing, Homelessness and Mental Health

The focus on a need for additional affordable housing supply is capturing some in the health professions. As the Homelessness Monitor mentioned above noted in its report, AIHW data collected from specialist homelessness services in 2016/17 indicates that over a quarter of people accessing services reported mental ill health as an issue associated with their homelessness.

Last year the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) held a national consultation to build a better understanding of the connection between housing, homelessness and mental health. They held workshops, carried out a survey and spoke to stakeholders about the key issues and gaps for people with lived experience of mental illness when they attempt to secure housing. The reports from the sessions and the overall paper can be accessed here.

While the service integration issue is recognised as important  as are more responsive and understanding tenancy management services, the sheer lack of secure affordable housing is the overwhelming gap preventing both recovery and contributing to worsening conditions. Traditionally the focus in the mental health profession has been on the clinical and therapeutic responses – and it will remain but instances of individuals being discharged from programs and / or institutions into insecure housing and even homelessness is shifting their focus.

The Commission has appointed AHURI to conduct more in-depth research to inform its policy advice to government. The research is composed of a literature review and policy analysis, investigative panels and workshops. CHIA NSW is one of the ‘housing’ panel members along with CHIA, National Shelter, Housing Choices and the National Affordable Housing Consortium. The other participants were mental health professionals from across the country.

Amongst the lively debate was the suggestion that perhaps in some cases the best health intervention might be housing. Not too farfetched as this example  from NY state indicates. The State calculated that ‘New York Medicaid payments for nursing-facility stays are $217 per day, as compared with costs of $50 to $70 per day for supportive housing. Furthermore, preventing even a few inpatient hospitalizations, at $2,219 per day, could pay for many days of supportive housing. Hence a pilot to examine the outcomes. It will be interesting to see if the NMHC work helps promote similar trials here.

AHURI conference on Affordable Housing Supply Solutions

On 29 May, AHURI hosted Ready for Growth a national conference focusing on Affordable Housing Supply Solutions.

The conference was an opportunity to hear from the major parties on their support for affordable housing. The Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Assistant Minister to the Federal Treasurer spoke about the new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the negotiations with States and Territories over the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement with its requirement that they produce credible housing strategies.

Senator Hon Doug Cameron, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness highlighted data which shows the extent of affordability challenges for many Australians and teased some of the solutions Labor is considering including in its manifesto for the forthcoming Federal election.

The conference also saw the launch of new AHURI research on affordable housing. The inquiry into increasing affordable housing supply: Evidence-based principles and strategies for Australian policy and practice includes three strands of research:

  1. Supporting affordable housing supply: inclusionary planning in new and renewing communities
  2. Government led innovations in affordable housing delivery
  3. Paying for affordable housing in different market contexts

Conference sessions linked to these strands of the research:

Professor Nicole Gurran, University of Sydney, spoke about the research team’s analysis of the contributions to affordable housing made by different planning systems. The research suggests that while the planning system can play a role, it is most effective when working to support other initiatives.

Professor Steven Rowley, Curtin University, spoke about government led innovations and facilitated a panel discussion. This session highlighted the need for government leadership and meaningful long term commitments to delivering affordable housing outcomes.

Professor Bill Randolph, University of NSW gave a presentation on paying for affordable housing, showing his team’s model on the impacts of different market contexts. This session highlighted something that Senator Cameron had highlighted in his opening address – the need for government to support affordable housing delivery by addressing the yield gap.

SDA Pricing and Payments Framework Review

The Department of Social Security (DSS) has commissioned KPMG to carry out a review of the SDA Pricing and Payments Framework. The review was scheduled to take place three years into the operation of the Framework which commenced in 2015 and covers the period to June 2021.

The SDA Pricing and Payments Framework provides guidance to people managing or owning existing disability accommodation, and to investors looking to develop new SDA accommodation. This guidance includes areas such as benchmark pricing, dwelling price calculations, participant eligibility, dwelling eligibility and registration, and quality and safeguards.

A national group of community housing peaks has agreed to work together to provide input to the review and has engaged Joseph Connellan to draft the joint response. Joseph has consulted with a couple of providers in most jurisdictions, including NSW, as the basis for preparing a draft submission which was then sent to all CHIA NSW members for comment. NSW was also represented at the roundtable held in Sydney for SDA providers by the CEO of BlueCHP, Charles Northcote.

One change CHIA NSW members want to see is the introduction of an SDA pre-approval process so that new developments an be let ‘off plan’.  This would ensure that not for profit providers on tight margins do not lose much needed income.

Providers also raised concerns about the lack of demand data currently available to guide investment decisions, and that the introduction of negotiated SDA prices delivered a level of uncertainty that could drive away investors.

The review is scheduled to be completed by August 2018 and will be considered by the COAG Disability Reform Council at its meeting in September 2018.

Lessons we can learn from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Many in the community housing industry will have been following the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. No one can forget the horrific scenes just over a year ago on 14 June 2017 when a fire in one flat spread rapidly through the whole building leaving 72 people dead. While the immediate focus was on the cladding used in the tower’s renovation, other issues around the management of the building, fire prevention and safety and regulation also emerged. The Inquiry’s terms of reference reflect these broader concerns.

Grenfell Tower is owned by the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. At the time of the fire, management was carried out under contract by a large Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) Kensington and Chelsea TMO. The TMO had been operating for many years, managed all the Council’s social housing and reported to a Board.

While there are differences between the UK and Australia, the principles and standards around asset and tenancy management services, design and construction, strong governance and external regulation should be the same. Its timely then to consider the lessons when the community housing industry looks to expand and the National Regulatory System for Community Housing is about to be reviewed.

With permission from Housing Quality Network a not for profit organisation based in the UK Housing Matters is reprinting a recent blog from their CEO Alistair McIntosh who spent time in NSW working with CHIA NSW on scenario planning with CHP boards. The article pulls no punches about what in the UK needs to change and should get us thinking here too.

Grenfell Inquiry – Why expert evidence is terrifying for boards

Grenfell must change the way we do things for ever. We are starting to see the experts’ reports to the Inquiry. If they are right, we have a long road to travel on safety. This is a big deal for your board.

Let’s get one thing clear. For a lot of its history the board of the Kensington TMO was just like any other housing board. It had a very similar mix of the great and the good. And at times it had industry heavyweights round the table. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are better than them. It is for the Inquiry and the courts to say what the TMO got right and wrong. Time will tell. But we can learn a lot now from the submissions to the Inquiry.

Let’s see how sharp you are. This is a minute from a TMO board meeting.

“Grenfell Tower Refurbishment – close liaison with London Fire Brigade and Fire Risk Assessor throughout the duration of the project. At the conclusion of the work some of the operational firefighters from the local Fire Station attended an onsite briefing where the contractor demonstrated the fire safety features of the building.”

Yep that’s what they were told. What questions would you have asked? Would you have asked any? Everything looks fine doesn’t it? It wasn’t.

What does a real expert make of it? Here’s what Professor Torero says in his evidence. The language is hard going. But the verdict is lacerating for all of us. So, read it.

“The regulatory framework relies very heavily on competent professionals to provide the necessary interpretation that will bridge the gaps and resolve the ambiguities left by functional requirements, guidelines and standardized tests. Nevertheless, a competent engineer should be capable of interpreting the requirement to ‘adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls…having regard to the height, use and position of the building’ within the context of the needs of the fire safety strategy in the case of a specific tall building. In the case of the fire safety strategy of Grenfell Tower, ‘adequately resist’ should have been interpreted as being ‘no’ external fire spread.

“There is currently no definition of what is the competency required from these professionals, or skill verification approaches that should be used, so as to guarantee that those involved in the design … implementation, acceptance and maintenance of these systems can deliver societally acceptable … levels of safety. There is a need to shift from a culture that inappropriately trivializes ‘compliance’ to a culture that recognizes complexity in ‘compliance’ and therefore values ‘competency,’ ‘performance’ and ‘quality.’ Otherwise, the increasing complexity of building systems will drive society in unidentified paths towards irresponsible deregulation by incompetency.” [My emphasis]

If he is correct we are not good enough. And we need better advisors too. Note the use of the term engineer. That is someone who knows what they are doing and can prove it. The professor is setting the bar high and no wonder.

I was appalled by the reaction to the Hackitt report. She suggested that we need to take a systematic approach to safety. What did a lot of the sector say? No, we want to go back to ticking boxes. Get someone to tell us that such and such a component is safe, and we will use it thus washing our hands of all responsibility. Hackitt and Torero give that idea short shrift. It never was that easy and it never will be that easy. When is there ever one single solution to a problem?

Where does this leave boards? On one level it is terrifying. Mistakes can have fatal consequences. And the assurances you thought you had turn to dust. No one will want to be on a board, will they? Then things will grind to a halt.

There is a way to sort this out. It is time for the assurance industry to step up. Let us have no more tick box internal audit reports. Please stop asking consultants to churn out pointless governance reviews. I call them Feng Shui reports because they drone on about the layout of the room. Who cares? It doesn’t matter a jot. Then there are the drive by stock surveys that miss the bleedin’ obvious.

It seems to me that lots of money is wasted on phoney assurance. Stop that and spend the money instead on the sorts of experts that Torero talks about. They will really help boards to sleep at night.

But boards will need to work harder and smarter. There is no way round that. I was flabbergasted when I read that new councillors in a borough that also had fire safety issues were complaining about 600-page long planning papers. Don’t forget these are key to safety, you must start from the right point. Their answer was to ask for speed reading courses. It might be better to go for training by experts. Then you can ask for sharper reports that get to the nub of the matter a lot quicker.

As you read what the experts have to say about Grenfell you quickly realise that regulation can’t stay as it is. We are going to have to bring back inspection or something like it. The IDAs these days look mainly at the money. Yes, that is a big deal. But it is not as important as safety. You’ve got to say that our current system of regulation is not fit for purpose to put it mildly. It was set up with the wrong priorities. The RSH (or someone) will be asked to get a grip on safety by the government. That is certain. You can expect to be inspected on how you keep tenants safe. And you must show that you listen to their concerns and act on them. But this time there will be no one size fits all official guidance (like the old Audit Commission KLOEs) or tick boxes to help you. Hackitt and Torero are right to put an end to spoon feeding. That’s when good people switch off and things go badly wrong.

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN Chief Executive

Farewell to Kevin Saide, Training Manager CTS

As many of you may know by now I am leaving the position of Training Manager on the 29th June 2018 to move to Victoria whilst continuing to do some training delivery online.

I started at The Federation as a Trainer nearly 10 years ago having come from 30 years working in and later managing housing / homelessness services in Queensland.

Having heard Sydney was in trouble I came down here to see what I could do (despite all my cousins pleading for me to stay in Queensland) and landed a job at Sterling College as an Assessor. Well, my good intentions of saving Sydney didn’t work as Sterling College was closed within 3 months of my arriving due to many compliance issues.

A couple of temporary jobs later I landed in the office of Laurel Draffen at The Federation who obviously saw some good in this smartass Queenslander (aren’t we all) and offered me a position as Trainer and Assessor (temporary until proven) which I am pleased to say I did some 6 months later.

I must say having been a sole Manager of organisations with whom the buck stopped I wondered how I might go working for two Managers, Laurel and Adam the CEO. Well two CEOs later I am still here and have thoroughly enjoyed working for Adam, Lucy and Wendy. Former and current staff are incredibly committed to the Federation (now of course CHIA NSW) and I will miss the daily contact.

I have been more than impressed and humbled by the number of dedicated, compassionate and devoted people I have met who work in the housing and homelessness sectors from CEOs to administrative staff who are often the frontline people for all organisations.

So now to Victoria a State also in trouble to see if I can be of some service.

City West Housing welcome new Head of Development

City West have announced that Lisa Sorrentino is joining their team as Head of Development this week to help make affordable housing for people on very low to moderate incomes a reality in Sydney.  Prior to joining City West Housing Lisa worked on urban renewal projects at Urban Growth NSW and also previously worked at Stockland in apartment delivery and business development.

Lisa is an experienced residential development executive with over 15 years of end to end development experience in urban renewal, mixed use, retirement living, and build to rent sectors within Australia and the United States.

As Head of Development Lisa will be responsible for all aspects of project development from acquisitions to handover to the tenancy team.

Lisa will help to ensure a strong pipeline of affordable housing developments will continue whilst leading the ongoing development of our five upcoming projects currently under construction or in planning.

Lisa said, “I am enthusiastic to join the team at City West Housing and looking forward to working closely with a range of stakeholders in the future to ensure we continue to contribute to the increase of the Affordable Housing supply in Sydney.”

Leonie King, CEO of City West Housing said “We are excited to have a developer of Lisa’s calibre joining our team. Like City West Housing, she is passionate about providing housing which is affordable for people on lower incomes. With ambitious plans for future developments underway in Sydney we look forward to working together to make living and working locally a reality for more people.”

Media mentions

Over the past month CHIA NSW and CEO Wendy Hayhurst have been mentioned in the following news articles:

To kick off build-to-rent housing, taxes may have to be less progressive (30/05/2018)

NSW budget spends on transport, families (20/06/2018)

CHIA Exchange (formerly Fed Ex)Save the Date: 12 & 13 September 2018

Please save the date for the next CHIA Exchange.  We will hold the next FedEx over 2 days on the 12 and 13 September 2018 at a new, more convenient venue – the Mercure Grand Central.  The new venue is a few minutes’ walk from Central Station in Sydney.  More information surrounding the event will be sent in the coming weeks.